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How to Get Government Assistance

Help for Single Parents Who "Don't Qualify"


How to Get Government Assistance

Government assistance can be hard to come by. Many hardworking single parents earn "too much" to qualify for benefits like food stamps, but earn too little to actually get by each month. If this describes your situation, know that help is available, and that you're not alone.

In fact, it may feel as though "just getting by" is close to impossible because, depending on where you live, it actually is. According to an online calculator* provided by Feeding America, many single parents do not have enough money left over at the end of the month to pay for groceries.

Take a look at these figures, representing the amount of money a typical single parent with one child has "left over" to pay for food, after factoring in the cost of housing, health care, transportation, and child care:

  • In Toledo, OH: $32
  • In Fort Work, TX: $35
  • In Birmingham, AL: -$92
  • In Oakland, CA: -$150
  • In New York City: -$237


In other words, for these families, there's literally not enough money left after paying the bare necessities to buy even a week's worth of groceries, much less pay for an entire month of meals.

Help For Single Parent Families Who Don't Qualify for Government Assistance

  • Child Support - In order to qualify for government assistance, you will most likely have to file for child support (if you have not done so already). This is because the government believes that both parents should be providing financial assistance before the government has to step in and provide additional financial help.

  • TANF - Seek help through your local Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) office. Even if you've been turned down before, it's a good idea to double check to find out whether your eligibility has changed since them.

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) - If you are pregnant or nursing, or your children are under the age of 5, consider applying for WIC.

  • Online Help - Look for help online at www.govbenefits.gov or by calling 2-1-1.

  • Food Pantries - Find a local food bank or food pantry in your area. They may be able to help you or point you toward additional local resources, even if you earn "too much money" to qualify for TANF.

  • Community Organizations - Contact local churches, religious organizations, and community organizations to find out whether they can offer some form of temporary assistance or point you toward additional services you may not be aware of. Know, as well, that you do not have to be a member of a particular organization to receive their help.

  • Perseverance - Finally, while you are waiting to find out whether you now qualify for government assistance, or whether any of the other organizations in your area can help you, continue to do everything that you can to limit your expenses and look for work.

*"Family Budget Calculator." America's Harvest. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2008. [http://www.kidscafe.org/budget_calculator.asp?s=41].


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